By Becky Firesheets
When adults are interested in returning to school, they’re often faced with multiple challenges — jobs, children, bills, aging parents — yet are expected to navigate this process alone. In contrast, high school students, who typically experience fewer barriers than adult learners, receive built-in guidance from trained counselors present in their schools. Worker Education at the Murphy Institute strives to change this reality by bringing college access services directly to adults within their communities.
Recently launched with DC37, Worker Education’s new initiative “CUNY Days” offers free, thirty-minute, one-on-one sessions with experienced pre-admission advisors held at the union’s headquarters. Our advisors begin each session by discussing participants’ career goals and recommending various academic pathways at the School of Labor and Urban Studies and/or greater CUNY that could lead toward achieving this goal. Depending on the individual’s needs, sessions might also include application assistance, exploration of various industries and local labor market data, guidance on accessing union tuition benefits and financial aid, and more.
The results so far have been overwhelming. Within the first week, all thirty-two appointments offered in February and March were booked, with a waitlist of over 15 people. February 7th, the inaugural CUNY Day at DC37, was a smashing success: seven members attended and left with a clear plan of action for continuing their studies at CUNY, a list of online resources to explore on their own, and, of course, a follow up phone call scheduled with their advisor.
Since then, Worker Education has hosted three more sessions with DC37 and is also in the process of expanding this initiative to reach more communities across NYC. There are so many working adults out there who have the skills, abilities, and desire to finish their degrees, they just need a little extra support to keep going. The Murphy Institute is thrilled for this opportunity to inspire them.